Cubs shortstop Addison Russell is looking forward to a fresh start.
He might be one of the first to tell you that 2017 didn’t go as planned.
“In some ways, I wish it would’ve been over sooner,” Russell said Friday.
On the field, Russell struggled to stay healthy. He spent the bulk of August and half of September on the disabled list nursing a foot injury.
Off the field, his relationship with his estranged wife, Melisa, began to crumble in the public eye after allegations of cheating and domestic violence surfaced.
Russell denied it from the start.
“Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful,” Russell said in June.
Shortly after the allegations were made public, Melisa filed for divorce. Nine months later, an MLB investigation remains open after gaining little traction.
“I haven’t really heard of anything,” Russell said. “It’s just been a little whisper here and there. They haven’t spoken with me personally.
“I’m really not paying attention to any of that stuff. All of that is in the past and behind. I don’t see any of that stuff sparking up this season.”
Russell said it wasn’t a distraction during a rough season and won’t affect his play this year.
“You kind of have to think about it as something that you overcame — you overstepped,” said Russell, who agreed to a one-year, $3.2 million deal to avoid arbitration. “That’s where I’m at in my life with it. That’s going to peek its head around the corner every now and again, but that’s last year. This year, it’s nothing but good vibes.”
An offseason goal was self-improvement. He spent most of his time off the radar, much of it with his son and daughter.
“Being a father is first and foremost of my life,” Russell said. “I love being a father. I think I was put on this earth to be a father. My daughter and son spend a lot of time together, and they’re happy together.”
As for Melisa, Addison said they have a “good, clean relationship” as far as communication.
Russell hopes to put last year’s drama behind him. He said he believes he has matured since last June and is ready to take his career to the next level.
“I’m really excited going into the season with a clean slate,” Russell said. “I’ve learned about myself as a human being, as a man and as a ballplayer. With that being said, I think I’m at a pretty good advantage with what I want to do with my career.”
NOTE: Including Addison Russell, the Cubs reached agreements with five of their six arbitration-eligible players, leaving only right-hander Justin Grimm unsigned.
The others signed: Kris Bryant ($10.85 million), Justin Wilson ($4.25 million), Kyle Hendricks ($4.175 million) and Tommy La Stella ($950,000).
Grimm ($2.475 million) and the club ($2.2 million) exchanged arbitration figures but are expected to avoid a hearing.
Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer
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